Low Manipulation vs. Protective Styling – Which hairstyle trend should you follow?

Many people have different definitions for ‘low manipulation’ and ‘protective styling’, because to each of us we regard them as similar but quite different depending on whom we’ve spoken to, what we’ve read, our hair patterns and schedules.

The general definition for both types of styling is any method that reduces the amount of manipulation placed on the hair. In essence, hairstyles which look good all day &/or week without having to be retouched, or taken down and styled over. This includes things like twists, buns, braids, curls like those in hair extensions and etc.  For the most part I’ve found that low manipulation styles and protective styles only differ in the fact that with protective styles your ends are protected/covered/tucked and that protective styling tends to last a little longer for example a week or more without being restyled. So then does a protective style mean that you’re ashamed of your natural hair? No. And your protective style – be it weave, braids, faux locks, your hair twisted – is between you and your hair.

In a movement that was supposed to unshackle us from judgment and help us embrace our individuality, I’m noticing that we now judge how “natural” one is.

Any woman beginning a natural hair journey would find that we have gotten so wordy in our definitions that it may be a bit confusing, so for me the aforementioned makes it a bit easier to understand.

Length retention comes through healthy hair practices such as proper cleansing, detangling and giving your hair its freedom to be itself. These techniques help to maintain your hair and keep it free of breakage, so be sure to keep them in your routine. Please note these styles don’t have to be extremely fussy, pretentious or completely time consuming.  It is as simple as spending a few minutes to an hour or two twisting/flat twisting or braiding your hair, leaving that in for a week or two and then taking down the twist for a twist out for another week.  It is also as simple as putting on a wig to help protect your hair.


Whichever method you choose, don’t forget to keep your hair moisturized when in these styles and to take care of them properly because you don’t want something that is supposed to benefit you turning into something that hinders your hair growth process such as braids being too tight.